Less touristy than other places on the Penang island, Gertak Sanggul is the epitome of seaside bliss worthy of a visit. Here’s our pick of things to see and do at Gertak Sanggul.
Pantai Gertak Sanggul. Credit: Chewy Quah (@chewybites Instagram)
Located at the southwestern tip of Penang island, Gertak Sanggul is a treasure trove of natural delights, filled with lush greenery and less crowded beaches. While the neighbouring Teluk Kumbar fuses the all-but-forgotten past and the bold, new up-and-coming, this fishing village remains unchanged for decades, making it a perfect destination to rekindle your love for nature. From soaking in the sun on a quiet beach to hiking a lesser-known trail, here's a list of the best things to see and do in Gertak Sanggul and its surrounding areas.
Pantai Gertak Sanggul. Credit: Ishak Hassan (Facebook)
Pantai Tanjung Asam and Pantai Gertak Sanggul in Gertak Sanggul are just as idyllic as the famous beaches in Batu Ferringhi — and half as crowded. Visitors can be seen relaxing with their family and snapping pictures for their Instagram feeds.
"My family enjoy swimming and having a picnic here. We especially enjoy digging for clams. Some families even set up tents so the kids could experience a camping trip,” says Idora Mufazzal from Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Nightscape shots at Gertak Sanggul are often accompanied by a strange green glow on the horizon, which are lights from faraway ships. Credit: @dougongjs (Instagram)
Thanks to the undisturbed Straits of Malacca’s view and the lack of light pollution, the skies in these parts of the island are alive with twinkling stars at night, making it a favourite spot for visitors to spend a quiet night stargazing or for shutterbugs to snap cinematic shots of the milky way.
When asked about his advice on getting a good shot of the milky way, photographer Douglas Ong says, “The weather plays a big role in determining a great night sky photograph. Make sure the sky is clear. Then, use any planetarium app like “Stellarium” to locate the milky way,” he says.
Pantai Tanjung Asam
GPS: 5.28184, 100.21142
Pantai Gertak Sanggul
GPS: 5.28192, 100.19399
Take a Hike — On Foot or On a Bike!
At the viewpoint of the Gertak Sanggul trail. Credit: Arif Alias (Facebook)
Known to the locals as the Gertak Sanggul Trail, the 5.8-kilometre path starts in Gertak Sanggul and ends in Pulau Betong in Balik Pulau, passing through forest, orchards, and plantations, with great views of the coastline overlooking Pulau Kendi.
Hiking along the Gertak Sanggul Trail.
“The trail certainly offers an excellent retreat for hikers and mountain bikers. However, because the path is shared by both hikers and mountain bikers, you must keep your eyes peeled for one another to avoid collisions.
“Also, the orchards and plantations are privately owned, so take nothing except photographs while passing through them,” says avid mountain biker Arif Alias.
Gertak Sanggul Hiking Trail
GPS: 5.28148, 100.18979
Visit Pulau Kendi
A cosy beach at Pulau Kendi.
While Pulau Jerejak is drawing visitors with its swoon-worthy rainbow jetty and Avatar-inspired LED garden, the isolated and uninhabited Pulau Kendi is the secret jewel off the southwestern coastal region.
Pulau Kendi beach.
"The cosy beaches here are so hidden, even some boatmen are not aware of them. Besides the lack of people and its untouched surroundings, the water here is pristine and clean. I will definitely bring my snorkeling gears for my next visit," says Mohammad Nasrullah from Malacca.
This slice of paradise is noticeably free of amenities and facilities, so visitors are advised to keep their phones fully charged, pack enough food and water, and clean up after themselves to keep the beach free of trash.
Isnoor Boat Tour
Contact: +6016 442 1855 (Boy)
Sunken Treasures: Wreck Fishing
An abundance of wrecks are in the waters surrounding Penang island, mostly from the two world wars. While these war wrecks may be a few hours away from Gertak Sanggul, another vessel, the Xin Yi Yi shipwreck, is well within reach.
The 43.6-metre Hong Kong vessel, which ran aground in 2018 after colliding with another shipwreck (nicknamed Kapal Simen), is now a sanctuary for marine life such as groupers, grunters, blackfin sea catfishes, and stingrays.
For homemaker Norita Ishak from George Town, the experience of wreck fishing was as much a fun-filled family outing as it was a rewarding learning experience for her five-year-old son.
“It was my son’s first fishing experience, too. He’s always been fascinated by ships so he was overjoyed to see a sunken ship up close. The stingray he caught gave birth to live young, so he learned that rays abort their young when captured,” says Norita.
A young boy enjoying wreck fishing.
Get on a Boat Ride
Boat ride along Pulau Kendi.
If for some reasons the land gets a little bit boring, then hop on a boat to get to places a car couldn't reach. See the coastline from rare perspectives as you ride along the southwestern coast, and marvel at the industrial skyline of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone (otherwise known as the “Silicon Valley of the East”), the Penang Bridge and more. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot wild dolphins, too!
Screenshot of wild dolphins.
“Honestly, it took us by surprise. Like many people, I was not aware that we can spot dolphins in Penang. The captain also took us to nearby landmarks like the Penang Bridge. For me, it was truly an unforgettable experience to view the bridge from the sea and also to go under the bridge. These are truly one-of-a-kind experiences you can only get from a boat ride,” says Norita.
Norita and son managed to capture a priceless photograph backdropped by the iconic Penang Bridge.
Nearby Places of Interest
If you can peel yourself away from Gertak Sanggul after hours of frolicking in nature, there are plenty more to see — arts, craft, and furry animals wise — at the neighbouring Balik Pulau.
Credit: normabahri (Instagram)
Located just a 30-minute drive away from Gertak Sanggul, Balik Pulau is home to a blossoming art scene. The rustic countryside boasts a great selection of murals by renowned muralists, emblazoned on old walls and even modern containers.
Penang International Container Art Festival’s Installation in Kampung Terang, Balik Pulau. Credit: Penang International Container Art Festival
Another fun option in Balik Pulau is to check out the Balik Pulau Craft Incubator Centre. Established in 2018, the centre is a place for local artisans and craft entrepreneurs to create and develop their arts. Amongst some of the rare items worth buying are handmade Malay parang and keris as well as unique batik, ceramics and more.
Malay parangs. Credit: www.myparang.com
Audi Dream Farm.
Fancy a cuddle with farm animals? A visit to the Audi Dream Farm is right up your alley. The farm offers endless joy for visitors to get up close and personal with farmyard animals ranging from rabbits to birds and even camels in a delightful outdoor farm atmosphere. Visitors are allowed to pet and feed the farm animals, much to the delight of the young and the young at heart.
(Mural) Wrinkled Old Silversmith by Ernest Zacharevic
GPS: 5.35268, 100.23628
(Mural) Fisherman by Julia Volchkova
GPS: 5.35159, 100.2355
(Mural) Hakka Girl Dancing by Julia Volchkova
GPS: 5.349820, 100.234219
(Mural) The Silat Master by Julia Volchkova
GPS: 5.34942, 100.23378
(Mural) Rubber Tapping by Julia Volchkova
GPS: 5.35101, 100.23289
(PICAF) Balik Pulau Container Art Installation
GPS: 5.31565, 100.20785
Balik Pulau Craft Incubator Centre
Add: Kampung Sungai Rusa
Contact: +04 656 3345 / +6012 430 2347
Audi Dream Farm
Add: 145, MK B, Sungai Rusa, 11010 Balik Pulau
Contact: +6012 499 9099